Photo: Lionel Messi (Miguel Ruiz/ FC Barcelona)
Nearly two months after he was sidelined with a hamstring injury, Argentine superstriker Lionel Messi was back with his FC Barcelona teammates Friday for an open practice that drew more than 13,000 people to the club’s mini-stadium.
The four-time World Player of the Year arrived here Thursday after a month spent in Argentina.
Messi, 26, showed no signs of rust during Friday’s scrimmage, notching a hat trick and earning an assist on another goal.
Also back for Friday’s session was goalkeeper Victor Valdes, out since Nov. 20 after suffering an injury while playing for Spain in a friendly against South Africa.
Squad members ended the practice with a salute to the crowd before kicking balls into the stands, signing autographs and posing for photos with group of disabled fans.
Messi’s absence has not cost Barça in the La Liga standings, where the club is tied for first place with Atletico Madrid, nor did it prevent the side from qualifying for the Champions League round of 16.